Check back regularly for links to new posts expanding on these terms.
Holy Grail: a just-right piece that ticks all the boxes for your ideal of that type of garment; often found after a long and patient search. May also refer to finding a rare or luxury brand worth far more than the price tag assigned to it. Example: “I’d been searching for the perfect blazer for forever and I finally found the Holy Grail: it’s my preferred color and cut, it’s a quality design, and it has the lapel I love and pockets right where I want ’em. And it fits like a glove!”
Thrift Unicorn: The thing you can NEVER find at the thrift store…so stealthy and magical you’re not sure it even exists, but you can’t quite quit believing it’s out there. Example: “My brother keeps looking for slim-fit work pants in his size and inseam but never finds exactly the right combination. They’re like his thrift unicorn.”
Wardrobe Exponent: an attractive thrift find which, if bought, would require you to buy several other pieces to make it work with your existing wardrobe. Example: “I didn’t realize that mulberry skirt I bought was going to be such a wardrobe exponent, but it doesn’t go with ANYTHING I have so I’m going to need to buy 3 or 4 more tops to make it worth it.”
Thrift Lust: The irrational feeling experienced when the allure of a piece of clothing drowns out one’s style conscience (see below), making it seem like a good idea to buy something one neither needs nor will actually wear. Example: “Ooh, I have thrift lust for these shoes so bad–they’re only half a size too small but the color is so fun and I love the style…maybe I’ll just wear them at work and take them off under my desk.”
Placeholder: An item you get at the thrift store when you just have to fill a hole in your wardrobe until a better item comes along. Usually not your ideal item, but will do the trick. Example: “This bag is really just a placeholder–my old one fell apart/got eaten by the dog/run over by a tractor and since I use my bag every day, I just needed something to tide me over while I look for the perfect fit.”
Thrift Camaraderie: the communal dynamic wherein complete strangers will comment, unsolicited, on one’s choice of garment (either positively or negatively). Can influence buying decisions; definitely makes thrifting more fun.
Example: you hold up dress – lady next to you in line for fitting room says: “Honey, you HAVE to get that – it’s fabulous!” Or, you come out to model a prospective purchase for your friend; stranger says: “Darlin’, that’s got some serious cameltoe going on there; I’d leave it alone. Too bad, though – it’s really cute! Mind if I try it on?”
Capsule Wardobe: A curated mix of pieces that all go together. Often limited to a certain number of items. Example: “I’m trying to build my fall capsule wardrobe but I’m not sure if this sweater will go with the pairs of pants I’m including in my (##) pieces of clothing.”
Uniform: A signature silhouette made over and over again from similarly cut pieces. Example: “My outfits for work are always made up of a bold pencil skirt, neutral blouse, cardigan, and kitten heels. Never varies –I’m a uniform kind of gal.”
Slow Style: A manner of curating one’s wardrobe that avoids impulse buys in favor of considered purchases that ultimately build a cohesive wardrobe truly expressive of an individual’s style. Example: “I’m really trying to embrace slow style — I’m not making any more shopping trips until I figure out what I actually wear, what the holes in my wardrobe are, and how I want to fill them in a way that means I’ll end up loving all the clothes I have.”
Style Conscience: That little voice that, when listened to, guides one’s shopping to be consistent with what one needs and will actually wear. Example: “I was about to buy a sequined tank top–it fit, and it was a neutral that would go with most of my bottoms–but then my style conscience kicked in and reminded me that sequins make me scratchy and I already have enough tops. Back to the rack it went!”